Systermans: Father Wilfred Systermans sac

Share Button

Wilfred Systermans (listed as Wilfred Systermans in Canadian Catholic Church Directories and Ontario Catholic Directory)

Wilfred Systerman (in media)

German-born member of the Pallottins (also Pallottines – also known as the Society of the Catholic Apostolate ).  The order is designated by initials “s.a.c.”  Ordained 1958.  Came to Canada to minister to German-speaking Catholics at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in Waterloo, Ontario.  Served in the Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario and the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Sex abuse allegations related to his time in Hamilton Diocese.  Allegations reported to police in 1990 – Father Systermans fled the country.  Warrant issued for his arrest and was listed on Interpol. Systermans died in 1996:  he was never apprehended.


22 August 2011: Michael Zenker Statement of Claim re allegations of sex abuse by Father Wilfred Systermans (Systermann) (between Michael Zenker and The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of the Diocese of Hamilton in Ontario, the Delegature West of the Province of the Sacred Heart of the Society of Catholic Apostolate and The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province of the Society of Catholic Apostolate)


1985-1986: Provincial Delegate for the Pallottins – Father Joseph Dephoff (Calgary, Alberta)


Bishops of the Hamilton Diocese from time Father Systermans arrived: Paul Francis Reding  (14 September 1973 – 08 December 1983); Anthony Frederick Tonnos (02 May 1984 – 24 September 2010) ; David Douglas Crosby, O.M.I. (24 Septembrer 2010 – – )

Archbishop of Edmonton while Father Systerman served in the Edmonton Archdiocese: Joseph Neil MacNeil (02 July 1973 – – 07 Jun2 1999)


21 March 2017:  Pedophile priests: The escape


The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) the 1980 Ontario Catholic Directory (OCD) and media (M)

August 2011:  lawsuit filed alleging abuse of Michael Zenker  which began when he was 11-years-old and continued until he was 14. (M)

1996:  died (M)

1991:  not listed in CCCD

1990:  abuse reported to police (M) – after the investigation began Systermans was  transferred back to his  order’s German headquarters in Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany.   According to media reports, police notified Interpol and issued a Canada-wide warrant in case Systermans ever returned to Canada (M)

It seems that Systermans may have been serving in the Archdiocese of Edmonton Alberta when he fled the country to elude justice?

1985:  Pastor, St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church, Edmonton, Alberta (CD)

1979-1985:  Pastor at St Mary’s (Our Lady of Seven Sorrows) Roman Catholic Church, Kitchener, Ontario (Father Systermans at St Marys) (Living in residence at st. Agnes in Waterloo)

allegations of abuse date to 1979 to 1983 at the office and rectory of St. Agnes, a Grand Bend cottage, and another Hamilton area church

1980:  in residence at St. Agnes, Waterloo, Ontario (Pastor Father T. H. Herhaz SAC) (OCD)

1973-74:  not listed in directory (CCCD)


Pastor alleges sex abuse, sues Roman Catholic organizations for $3M (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario)

28 July 2012

Zenker Michael Zenker has filed a $3-million lawsuit against several Roman Catholic organizations alleging they failed to protect him from sexual abuse by a priest at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Waterloo, background, when he was 11 years old. Mathew McCarthy/Record staff










WATERLOO — A local pastor is suing several Roman Catholic Church organizations for allegedly failing to protect him from being sexually abused by a priest in Waterloo more than three decades ago.

Michael Zenker says he was 11 years old when a priest at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Waterloo began abusing him. It lasted three years, he says.

The lawsuit’s statement of claim filed in a court in Hamilton, in August 2011, contains allegations that have not been proved in court.

According to the statement of claim Father Wilfrid Systerman, who is now dead, forced the boy into sexual acts including fondling, masturbation and oral sex.

Zenker, 43, who now lives in Elmira, says he met Systerman as a Record newspaper carrier delivering the paper to the St. Agnes church office.

The priest was sent from Germany to be a minister to German-speaking Catholics at St. Mary Catholic church in Kitchener. He lived at the manse attached to St. Agnes.

Systerman often gave Zenker tips when he knocked on the office door to collect the money owed for the paper, Zenker said in an interview. The priest brought him into his office and invited him to sit on his lap.

“His hands started to wander,” Zenker said. “It happened all the time. He had his hands down my pants almost every time I went to see him.”

Zenker reported the alleged abuse to Waterloo regional police in 1990. After police began an investigation, Systerman was transferred to Germany where he died in 1996.

“We were unable to conclude the investigation because the priest was transferred to Germany,” said Sgt. Sig Peters. “He left the country before we could interview him.”

Police notified Interpol and issued a Canada-wide warrant in case Systerman ever returned to Canada.

Peters said Zenker’s story was “very believable — very authentic. At the time, his concern was there might be other kids. We tried very hard to come up with other young fellows,” Peters said.

Zenker thought the case was closed. But he decided to go to a lawyer 2 1/2 years ago after reading an article about the abuse of boys by Catholic priests.

“I started reading stories of coverup from the Catholic church. Something in me woke up,” said Zenker, who went on to become pastor of Hope Fellowship, a non-denominational congregation in Waterloo.

“My life has been affected by this. We’re suing the church for negligence, for not dealing with this. They knew what happened and protected him and did nothing.”

Zenker launched a $3-million lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, the Catholic religious society to which the priest belonged (known as the Pallottines), and the organization that took over that group.

The Hamilton Diocese denies the allegations. In its statement of defence, the diocese says Systerman was an ordained Pallottine priest under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Pallottines, an independent religious institute.

The Diocese said it had jurisdiction only over diocesan priests of the Diocese of Hamilton.

In its statement of defence, the Pallottines say they did not know about any improper conduct by the priest. They learned of the allegations only in 2010 through Zenker’s lawyer.

The society’s officials say Zenker is not legally entitled to take action so long after the alleged abuse.

“The plaintiff’s unreasonable and inexcusable delay in pursuing this action in a timely way has resulted in severe prejudice to the Pallottines and its ability to properly defend this action,” their statement of defence says.

The lawsuit says the Diocese and the Pallottines should be punished for helping Systerman leave Canada “in the face of rumours, allegations and/or suspicions of Systermmans’ (sic) sexual misconduct…’’ and for failing to co-operate with the police investigation of Zenker’s allegations.

The Diocese and the Pallottines indirectly helped the priest avoid justice in Canada, the lawsuit states.

“He was magically returned to Germany,” said Zenker’s lawyer, Rob Talach. “I suspect … his religious order decided that was the best way to get him out of Dodge.”

He calls it an international obstruction of justice.

“They’ll have to justify why he was magically transferred as soon as police started snooping around,” he said.

Talach said courts usually allow lawsuits related to historical sexual abuse to proceed. It’s common for many victims not to come forward until their 40s or 50s, he said.

“People will avoid it, bury it, try not to deal with it. In mid-life they decide to confront it. In Canada, there’s no statute of limitations to charge someone or sue someone” in these kinds of cases, he added.

Zenker recalls Systerman as an “overweight senior man” who was kind and gentle.

He was always smiling, like a “happy Friar Tuck,” he said.

Like Systerman, Zenker’s background is German.

Zenker’s parents trusted someone “from the homeland,” he said.

A religious child who grew up in the German Baptist Church, Zenker liked the priest because he talked about God.

“I loved God,” he said. “To me, the God thing was really important. I was an innocent hungry kid wanting to know more.

“He was an authority. He was teaching me about God.”

Zenker attended Catholic education classes. He went on an overnight trip to Hamilton where classes were being held.

There, he recalls a boy named Jamie telling him, ‘Keep your doors locked.’

“Then it started to dawn on me,” Zenker said. “I quit the paper route.”

Systerman also took him to a cottage in Grand Bend for a beach vacation.

Zenker thought the sexual abuse hadn’t affected him. But looking back, he was kicked out of three Kitchener high schools and he made poor financial decisions. He says he was suicidal and his marriage was affected.

Talach says the Diocese can’t wash its hands of the priest simply because he was ordained by the religious society.

“He would have been (among) a handful of priests in the parish that’s run by the Diocese. He’s on loan to the Diocese of Hamilton,” Talach said.

But the Diocese said it did not supervise the priest who was not employed by the Diocese.

The Diocese is cross-suing the Pallottines organization, called The Society of Catholic Apostolate — Western Canadian Delegate.

The Diocese says that if Zenker did suffer any damages, they were caused by the negligence of the Pallottines who should pay any damages that may be ordered.

Responsibility for the society was transferred in 2009 to a similar Catholic organization, with headquarters in India, called The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province of the Society of Catholic Apostolate.

Giovanna Asaro, the lawyer for the Diocese, declined to comment since the matter is in litigation.

6 Responses to Systermans: Father Wilfred Systermans sac

  1. Alois kandler says:

    Es besteht der Verdacht, dass es auch in Österreich zu derartigen Fällen von Missbrauch gekommen ist.

  2. christina says:

    I am unable to translate this well…. can someone do better, svp? To me it reads: “There is suspicion that [in] Austria there are also instances of abuse [which] happened”.

  3. niel capasso says:

    Slyvia why do you only report roman catholic priest abuse? other denominations have just as many . soundings like your hatred for the RCC

    • Sylvia says:

      No, niel. You are mistaken. I do not hate my Church. To the contrary, I am, in fact, a practicing Roman Catholic who loves the Church.

      First, let me be clear, I abhor child sex abuse, period.

      That said, I am a Roman Catholic. As a Roman Catholic I believe it is an oxymoron to refer to a man as both a Roman Catholic priest and molester, a travesty that countless molesters were ordained to the priesthood, a sacrilege that a priest molester dares to hold the Body of Christ in his sullied hands, unconscionable that bishops and Church officials willfully place children at risk, indefensible that known molesters are tolerated in the ranks of the priesthood and unfathomable that any bishop would willfully deceive the faithful by assigning a known molester into, for example, a parish, school or hospital.

      I abhor the treatment endured by countless victims at the hands of clergy and Church officials, specifically from those ‘shepherds’ whose primary concern is supposed to be that of the salvation of souls and finding the lost sheep.

      Those, in small part, are, as a Roman Catholic, my concerns. If you followed the site for the past several years you would realize that I do occasionally, and for various reasons, post information about non Catholic cases of child sexual abuse. I am fully aware that there are sex abuse cases in virtually every religious denomination on the face of the earth, and am aware through various inquiries that most if not all all – be it, for example, Church of England, Anglican, Salvation Army, Jehovah Witnesses – seem to have employed the same or similar tactics to cover-up the abuse and protect the molesters.

      The fact that other religions have ‘just as many’ does not, at least for me personally, in any way shape or form justify any of many clerical and religious predators we have harboured, and continue to harbour, in the Roman Catholic Church, nor does it alleviate my concerns regarding (1) the alarming tolerance exhibited by Church officials toward clerical – and religious – sexual predators in the Church and (2) the often dismissive and cruel treatment afforded victims by Church officials, and sad to say, parishioners.

      If you are concerned that other denominations need a site similar to Sylvia’s Site, I encourage you to start a data base.

  4. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Niel Capasso – The church’s doctrine and dogma remain unchanged! The fact that Sylvia choses to document these cases is a good and empowering thing.
    There is, and should not be, any shame in documenting the truth! The Roman
    Catholic Church puts itself forward as the “true church of God”. If that is the case, it is incumbent upon the church to practise what it preaches!
    I can assure you that Sylvia definitely has no “hatred” toward the Catholic Church. As a matter of fact, she is encouraging many of us victims (myself included) to return to the fold and begin “practising” again!
    Your insinuations are way out of line! You don’t know her as I do. Perhaps you should spend more time watching the site, and seeing how she encourages many of us to continue our faith. Please take a look! mike.

  5. JMac says:

    Neil, it is through this site, individuals, myself included, were able to track down serial pedophiles from the RCC. For me, it showed me that i was not an isolated incident. I was not bearing some invisible mark or character flaw that made a deserving target. This site has helped bring to light the sheer magnitude of a much greater problem within the RCC. Sylvia’s site has also had a hand in showing these priests show little to no respect for the laws of man by the # of breach incidents. Sylvia’s site is certainly limiting the church’s ability to recycle these perverts back into unsuspecting communities. Through this site & the indivduals who have posted here, I was able to gather the strength from them, to proceed to hold to account, a prolific child molester. With a previous and past history, to my incident. The RCC ebabled this priest to contnue for years.

Leave a Reply